Breakfast Ideas

Museli Yogurt Parfait. Image at Delish.com

I always do the same things for breakfast – so boring! Here are two different, healthy and yummy ideas, but most importantly they look easy which is important to me in the morning:

Museli Yogurt Parfait and Tomato Scrambled Eggs.

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Meal Plans

Image from ThisWeekForDinner.com

There are three issues I always consider when meal planning:

  1. Healthy, balanced meals;
  2. Money saving recipes;
  3. Simple, quick recipes I can cook while also paying attention to my 3 year old.

For me the money saving recipes have to be balanced out with what is quick and easy. I find cooking from scratch is money saving but time consuming, baking your own loaf of bread can cost only pennies compared to the same product in the local shop. However, on busy days I have to consider whether I can spend a few extra pennies to save time. To top this off I always have to read the ingredients in any shop bought items to make sure that the salt and sugar content is not too high, or that there are no hydrogenated fats used.

With so many things to consider when feeding my family I do like to stick to a meal plan. So, when I find a weeks worth of recipes that worked well, everyone enjoyed, I found easy to cook and easy on my budget, then I like to keep a record of it. Here is a meal plan I did a couple of weeks ago which fitted all my criteria:

  1. Homemade Pizza and salad;
  2. Meatballs, rice and salad;
  3. Stir Fry;
  4. Sausages, mash and vegetables;
  5. Fishcakes with salad;
  6. Steak, wedges and salad;
  7. Roast pork and vegetables.

I am looking for guest bloggers to be featured on Mondays sharing their meal plans. That way we can swap ideas and build up a bigger picture of how others are saving time and money in the kitchen. Please leave a comment below or email me if you would like to be a guest blogger.

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German Friendship Cake

Introducing Jenny Drummond as my guest blogger. She is one of my best friends and a fellow lover of good home cooked food; she loves to cook and bake for her family. We met at university and shared a house where we loved to cook and eat together. Here is Jenny’s blog all about a sourdough cake:

It seems there is a friendship cake ‘doing the rounds’ and my Mum and Sister-in-law have both got one, which is how I came by mine. I actually did one a long time ago when I was a teenager and living in Germany, so it’s not just some recent fad. They are really tasty; mine was baked and eaten up today and not scoffed by me alone (promise).

If you’re not au fait with the idea, it’s like a chain letter but much nicer! It’s a sourdough cake and you keep the mixture on your worktop for 10 days. You stir it daily and ‘feed’ it every couple of days or so with flour, sugar and milk. Finally, you divide the mixture into 4 portions; three of which you give to friends to continue the chain. The ‘saved’ mixture is for you to bake after adding a few other ingredients. There are various versions, but traditionally it is with apple, cinnamon and raisins- like mine. I know that Vicky is not keen on eating much yeast* in her food, but if you try and limit your yeast intake normally a little of this would be fine.

If you would like to start your own, here’s how, followed by the instructions which you pass on along with the mixture. Remember, you must never store it in the fridge as that ‘kills’ it (it stops the yeast from working). A cup is normally 225g/225ml, but I literally just used a cup and measured it that way- as long as you use the same cup each time it works.

Starting your own Friendship Cake:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Third of a cup of warm water
  • 2 tbsps or 2 packets of active dry yeast

Method: Mix a tbsp of sugar with the water and add the yeast. Leave for 10 mins. Then mix the rest together.

Instructions/ How to care for you mix;

Day 1- Put in a large mixing bowl. Leave on your worktop covered loosely with a tea towel.

Day 2 & 3- Stir well

Day 4- ‘Feed’ – Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.

Day 5, 6, 7 & 8 Stir well.

Day 9- Repeat ‘feed’ as day 4. Divide into 4 portions and give away 3 to friends with these instructions. Keep the fourth portion.

Day 10- You’re ready to bake friendship cake. Add the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Half tsp salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 thirds cup of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 heaped tsps cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsps. baking powder

Method:

  1. Mix everything together and put into large greased baking tin.
  2. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter.
  3. Bake for 45 mins at 180*C.

* Note from Vicky: Rather than use packet yeast it is possible to make your own sourdough starter ingredients from scratch. This method uses the natural properties of the flour rather like natural yogurt uses its own ‘probiotic’ properties to grow – Jenny has inspired me and I’m working on my own natural sourdough starter at home right now. I will blog about it soon.

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Homemade Potato Wedges

http://www.lovepotatoes.co.uk

Tonight we are having steak, chosen and cut by our local butcher. We get all our meat at our local butcher, my 3 year old George knows him by name and will chat to him about what type of sausages he likes! To accompany our steak we will have potato wedges, they are very quick and very tasty. You can serve them with any recipe that might normally be associate with chips, but these are healthy chips!

Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Potatoes (2 medium sized potatoes per person)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180°c.
  2. Scrub the potatoes, then cut each into half lengthways, and then in half lengthways again. Repeat until you have 8 even-shaped wedges.
  3. Pour a little oil onto a baking tray, use a pastry brush to cover the tray evenly in oil.
  4. Lay out the potatoes trying to keep them from over lapping.
  5. Drizzle potatoes with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and about 2tsp of mixed herbs (add herbs to your taste).
  6. Place in the pre-heated oven for approx 20 minutes or until the wedges are tender on the inside and their skins are golden and crispy.
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My Chicken Noodle Broth

Dinner tonight was my chicken noodle broth recipe. Yesterday we had a roast chicken and this is a fantastic, healthy way to use up the leftovers. Plus it is like having your own healthy Chinese takeaway at home.

I made my own chicken broth, which I was able to do with the Sunday roast leftovers. If you don’t want to make your own stock buy some good quality chicken stock in a tub rather than a stock cube, which will be high in salt and low in nutrition.

The best thing about this recipe is if you have your chicken broth ready you can make it in under 10 minutes and use only one pan – barely any washing up!

How to make chicken broth/stock:

This is a very rough recipe. I suggest to add chicken bones to a large pan of water with a handful of bay leaves, a teaspoon of black peppercorns, some garlic cloves, an onion, fresh rosemary, a few carrots and some sticks of celery. Boil up the pan and simmer for at least an hour. Strain the stock through a sieve and you have wonderful healthy fresh chicken broth.

Chicken Noodle Broth:

Serves approx 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre chicken broth/stock (approx)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp worcester sauce
  • 2 large blocks of noodles (I use chow mein noodles)
  • 1 bag of stir fry vegetables (a pack with plenty of beanshoots)

Optional serving suggestions : cashew nuts, sesame seeds, sliced spring onions, chilli sauce.

Method:

  1. Bring the chicken broth to boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add soy sauce and worcester sauce, stir.
  3. Turn heat under broth down to simmer and add noodles, simmer for approx 3 mins (or as stated on noodle packet).
  4. Tip contents of vegetable pack into saucepan and place on a lid. Leave to simmer for approx 3 mins or until vegetable have softened but still have a crunch.
  5. Serve in a bowl with toppings of your choice from the ingredients listed above.

Top tip: I make this recipe after we’ve had a roast chicken, I can then add any leftover meat in with the noodles to cook through, this stretches your Sunday roast to make another cheap, easy dish for your meal plan. If you want more ideas for leftover chicken check out my blog post ‘Use Your Roast Chicken’.

Please leave feedback. I love this recipe and I’d love to hear what you think of it!

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Posted in Food Thoughts & Nutrition, Money saving, Quick Easy Meals, Quick Easy Recipe, Recipes | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Valentine’s Meal Plan

This time next week it will be Valentine’s Day. My husband and I usually cook each other a special meal on for Valentine’s day as we meal plan I always get the ingredients the week before. What I really like to use are quick, easy recipes that allow you to enjoy the evening together rather than working away in the kitchen, but of course they have to be tasty recipes! I looked through some of my past blog posts and found some recipes that fit the bill:

Starter Options:

Main Options:

Desserts:

All of the desserts can be made ahead of time or the day before which frees up time on the day. All of these recipes have maximum flavour but do not take longer than 30 minutes to prepare/cook. I’m started to get hungry just thinking about which I’ll choose to cook!

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Love You, Love Your Heart, Healthy Valentine’s Cookies

http://eatgood4life.blogspot.com

With Valentine’s day coming soon, I thought it would be great to find recipes that care about your heart as well as your tastebuds.

I found the recipe for these cookies made with wholewheat flour and coconut at the blog Eat Good 4 Life. Although the measurements are American, it is easy enough to convert these using Delia Smith’s helpful conversion table. Hope you like this recipe. Leave a comment if you give it a try!

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Back to Blogging

I seem to be interminably busy, there never seems a minute to spare to get back on with blogging. This month I’ve had another Supper Club. We had a great time but I put a lot of work into every event. Each Supper Club takes up all my free time, and since I love to cook I guess I would count my Supper Club as my biggest hobby. Below you can see what I cooked this time, the whole Supper Club was taken by a group at my Church and they helped design the menu.

http://thisisnosoawesome.com

The next culprit to absorb my time is our laundry basket, it is always full. I put load after load on, but it never ends. It is a toddler’s job to keep his Mother in a constant stream of washing, either his clothes are covered in food, mud, paint, glue etc or it is my own clothes he chooses to wipes his hands or maybe even rub his grubby face on! I’m lucky I’ve only got one little boy to look after! Well, I guess you could say one little boy and one big boy too!

http://colormehouse.comFollowing this on my busy list, is the amount of time we devote to play, I am either playing with toys, finding toys, organising toys or tidying up toys, even tripping over toys. Basically toys take up a lot of my time, and as much of my time is spent tidying up toys as it is spent playing with them.

So this week I really want to put aside some time and get on with my blog. Valentine’s recipes are my focus for the next few weeks and I’m going to find some good recipes. In the meantime check out the Valentine’s cookies George and I made last year.

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The Cookiepedia

Mmmm brownies. George and I made some this week for our friends. We have a fantastic new book called The Cookiepedia by Stacey Adimando filled full of yummy cookies and biscuits. I love how this recipe book has set itself apart from all the other baking books on my shelf. It is spiral bound and more like a textbook than a traditional recipe book and I like the style. The use of spiral binding is a simple idea, but very effective and I wish all my recipe books were so easy to use. Listen up publishers – spiral binding is a must for a user friendly recipe book.

Now, as the name suggested The Cookiepedia works its way through every type of cookie imaginable but in clear sections group cookie types together. For example there is a whole section on chocolate cookies, where my brownies fitted in (cookie or cake you decide) and another on fruity cookies which included the delicious oatmeal raisin cookies I’ve enjoyed making. There are lots of helpful hints with each recipe; a useful glossary, which I think most recipe books lack; and great food photography accompanied.

At the moment my copy of The Cookiepedia is my go to baking book and the one recipe book that is staying off my bookshelf and out on my kitchen counter – and in my kitchen that is the equivalent of my own special culinary award.

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Most Popular 2011 – Your Favourite Posts

Looking back over my posts this year I’ve found the five most popular posts. There are a good mix of recipes and surprisingly my Smoked Salmon Pasta has been the most popular recipe all year round! Here are your favourite 5 posts:

Quick Healthy Smoked Salmon Pasta:

Fruit Custard Fool; quick, easy, healthy and delicious:

My Quick Jacket Potato recipe:

Rose piped icing for beautiful cupcakes:

Speedy Prawn Stir Fry:

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